Best Rod and Reel Combos for Catfish in 2023

If you are looking for only the best rod and reel combos for catching catfish in 2022, you will need to purchase the top gear that is heavy enough to reel them in.

When you need to capture a catfish, you will need all of the extra power you can get! 

This means that even if you are looking to catch much smaller catfish, you may even come across giant 30-pound blue catfish or flathead cats, depending on where you fish.

What Are The Top Rod And Reel Combos For Catfish

If you run into one of these, you will want to ensure that you are equipped for them, with a rod and reel combo that can battle the catfish. The last thing you need is to be stuck fighting a monster blue catfish with a lightweight rod and reel combo.

Therefore, you will want only the most capable rod and reel combo (learn about the champion-named Abu Garcia Jordan Lee Baitcaster Combo here) that works well for catching the smaller, lighter fish and contending the more oversized catfish monstrosities!

Best Rod And Reel Combos For Catfish

Luckily for you, we have gathered the best reel and rod combos for you to choose from. Our top choices are:

Abu Garcia Catfish Commando Combo: This option is the best lightweight choice for catching channel cats and is cost-efficient. 

Penn Battle II Combo: This is a great all-rounder and is our best pick for a medium-weight rod and reel combo for smaller and larger catfish. 

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Rod Combo: This is a great budget option (also learn about the differences between the Ugly Stik GX2 vs Elite rods) that is lightweight but also able and durable enough to take on larger catfish.

Penn Fierce III Combo: This is our top pick for a heavier option if you want to catch large, heavy trophy catfish such as Blue catfish.

Zebco Big Cat Spinning Combo: This is a good choice for medium to heavy catfish within a robust and durable construction (for more options, check out the differences between the Zebco 808 and 888 reels).

While all of the above options are perfect for catching catfish, they vary in size and strength. Below is a more in-depth review of each one to help you make your own informed decision about which is best for you. Learn more about the parts of a fishing rod here.

Best Rod And Reel Combos For Catfish: Reviews

Here we will review each rod and reel combo, showing which size fish they are most suitable for, along with their features and size recommendation. 


Abu Garcia Catfish Commando Combo


Abu Garcia 7’ Catfish Commando Cast Fishing Rod and Reel Baitcast Combo,...

The Abu Garcia Catfish Commando Combo is one of the best rod and reel combos (see our in-depth review of the Abu Garcia Veritas casting rod and reel combos here) for catfish. This combination comes equipped with either a spinning reel or a baitcaster, depending on your preference. 

That being said, in many cases, you may prefer to use a baitcaster, as these can be cast for longer distances. Spool bait casters have a round design that will inevitably hold more line than a spinning reel, which is much better for making sure those big catfish don’t run away with all of your line. 

However, we all know how annoying baitcasters can be for getting caught and causing backlash.

Baitcasters are also harder for beginners to get used to, let alone master, so think about this before purchasing. If you are a beginner (see excellent spincast rods by Zebco here), you may benefit from picking this rod with a spinning reel to catch your catfish. 

We love this rod and reel combo because it has a 7-foot pole, which gives a moderate fast action for exceptional casting performance at all times.

This works in conjunction with a 6000 size spinner or a 6500 size baitcaster, depending on which you chose to purchase with it, but both provide a lot of line capacity and extra drag power for handling much more giant and stronger catfish. 

This rod and reel combo is one of our favorites for an overall option: a great all-rounder, suitable for catching smaller and medium-sized catfish.


  • 7’ rod included
  • Up to 11 lbs of drag power
  • Made of composite materials
  • It is a medium-heavy pole
  • Provides moderate fast action
  • It comes with a choice of baitcaster or spinning reel
  • Split grip EVA handle

Size recommendation: 

7-foot medium-heavy power.


Penn Battle II Combo


PENN BTLII3000701ML Battle II 3000 Spinning Reel Combo, Inshore, 7 Feet,...

If you are looking for a cost-effective rod and reel combo for catching catfish, then the Penn Battle II Combo is for you!

This is one of the best spinning reels on the market, with superior and high quality, in a cost-efficient combination. 

This combo is typically used for surf fishing, but it has just the right amount of power and casting ability for catching those medium-sized catfish that you are after.

This rod and reel combo (learn about the best swimbait rods here) is perfect for catching strong fish, as the casting combination is ideal for this. 

For instance, it comes with a combination of action and length, which work in conjunction with long-range casting, making casting a large bait from the shore so easy.

Additionally, with this rod and reel combo, you have the assurance of a high-quality brand such as Penn, with 5 plus 1 stainless steel ball bearings, along with instant anti-reverse for your convenience. 

With the Penn Battle II Combo, the carbon fiber drag system is equipped with plenty of power to handle those long battles with larger trophy fish, too.

With a 5000 size that is exceptional for loading braided line up to 30 pounds, you will have everything you need to reel in those bigger fish. 

In our opinion, the Penn Battle II is the essential rod and reel combo (learn more about the Penn Battle vs Spinfisher reels here) if you want a medium-weight combination that works well for both larger, trophy, and smaller fish.

Therefore, this combo is the best all-rounder for price, convenience, versatility, and capability.


  • Graphite composite
  • Braid ready spool
  • Whole metal body- highly durable design
  • Carbon fiber drag
  • Two-piece 8’ casting rod

Size recommendation:

8-foot medium-power size, along with 5000 spinning reel


Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Rod Combo


Ugly Stik 6’6” GX2 Spinning Fishing Rod and Reel Spinning Combo, Ugly...

If you are interested in finding a cost-effective, lightweight option for reeling in smaller catfish, then the Ugly Stik is your guy.

This rod and reel combo is optimal for catching channel cats, with enough sensitivity to capture the species and enough power to battle with bigger ones. 

If you want to use the Ugly Stik to catch catfish, we recommend picking the 7-foot medium-heavy size for the best results.

The 7’ medium heavy rod and reel combo is a one-piece graphite and fiberglass combination that works exceptionally well for smaller channel catfish but is durably made in case you run into larger ones that pick a fight!

For instance, this pole’s backbone is powerful and robust enough to handle giant catfish, deadlift objects of up to 30 pounds without damaging or breaking.

With that in mind, this is an excellent choice, as you do not have to worry about ruining your gear if you accidentally pick up a trophy fish instead of smaller cats. 

Additionally, this rod and reel combo comes with a 3500 size spinning reel with three ball bearings included and can work well with a 6-15 lb braid or even a 5-10 lb mono.

This combo is 5:2:1 gear ratio, at medium speed, which can easily take on some fish feeling lucky and ready for a fight with you.


  • Designed as a graphite and fiberglass combination for increased strength and durability
  • One-piece rod with a strong backbone for bigger catfish
  • It comes with three ball bearings
  • Clear tip for spotting bites easily
  • 5:2:1 medium gear ratio

Size recommendation:

7’ medium-heavy size with a 3500 spinning reel


Penn Fierce III Combo


PENN 7’ Fierce III LE Fishing Rod and Reel Spinning Combo, Right/Left...

If you are looking for an excellent combo choice, then the Penn Fierce III may be for you.

This combo was initially designed for saltwater fishing; however, it works great for catching the much larger catfish.  

For instance, Blue cats and flatheads are some of the biggest freshwater fish you can find in North America, and these are powerful fish who love to put up a fight before being caught.

These catfish are often determined to escape and will be a struggle to reel in. Therefore, if you want to catch one of these bad boys, you will need more of a heavy-duty combo to land them. 

Luckily, the Penn Fierce III combo comes with a ten-foot pole and an 8000 reel, which makes this one of the heaviest combos on our list; therefore, this is the combo you need if you want to catch really large types of catfish. 

If you like to fish for really big trophy fish, such as blue catfish or flatheads, you will want to try out the Penn Fierce III combo.

Its extremely long pole effortlessly increases the casting distance, while its sturdiness and durability help control the fish, especially if you manage to hook a monster.

With an 8000 size spinner, you can easily handle those extra-large trophy fish like a pro.


  • Four stainless steel ball bearings
  • HT-100 Carbon fiber drag
  • Two-piece 10’ casting rod
  • Graphite composite
  • Split grip EVA handle included

Size recommendation:

10-foot heavy power size with 8000 spinning reel


Zebco Big Cat Spinning Combo


Zebco Big Cat XT Spinning Reel and 2-Piece Fishing Rod Combo, Extended EVA...

If you want a highly convenient combo, you will want to invest in the Zebco Big Cat Spinning Combo.

This open cast fishing reel has a two-piece, 7’ E-Glass rod, a built-in hook keeper, and an extended EVA foam handle. 

To reel in those monster catfish, this rod and reel combo will do the trick. It has all-metal gears, five bearings, a powerful magnum drag system, a body and rotor of graphite, and an aluminum spool.

This rod and reel combo will help you find and capture your most prized catch for medium-heavy power.

With a trusted spinning reel and anti-reverse technology, you do not have to worry about tangles for improved reliability and a smooth fishing trip.

This rod and reel combo is also very versatile, able to reel in the larger, heavy fish and the smaller ones that may cross your path. 


  • It comes with five bearings
  • Powerful rod and reel combo, made of graphite
  • Best for medium to heavy power for larger catfish
  • Anti-reverse technology and no tangles

Size recommendation: 

7’ rod medium-heavy size.


To summarize, these are some of our best options for rod and reel combos if you want to catch catfish.

Whichever one you choose, these are some of the top contenders on the market; however, your best option depends on what species of catfish you want to find, which size you want, and of course, your budget, as these products do vary in price. 

For the best results, you may want to choose one of the more lightweight options, as these will be great for catching most types of catfish.

However, if you prefer to catch some of the biggest monster blues and other catfish, you should choose a heavier, more durable option. 

Whichever option works best for you, we wish you good luck on the water! 

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